With the release of the HSC exam timetable, now is the perfect time to start helping your teen prepare early for the exams. If they’re already feeling nervous, or you’re worried about getting them through it in one piece, you’re not alone. 

Thankfully, there are a few simple steps that can take the stress out of studying and help your teen sail through the HSC. 

Getting the most out of self-directed study

Developing students’ self-directed study skills is especially important when preparing them for HSC subjects. During examination periods, self-directed learners who’ve developed good study habits tend to manage this pressure better than others. 

A well-balanced weekly plan should allow time for both compulsory homework and self-directed study. Time spent on home learning should increase as your child gets older, from 30-60 minutes a day in school years 7-9, to 90-120 minutes a day in years 10-12. 

It is important that study is active.  Students should go beyond simply reading through notes and, instead, make summary notes using bullet points, tables, mind maps and visual cues such as bold, colour and highlight.  Planning and composing responses to past papers can help students to recognise gaps in their learning, and set goals to direct their study by comparing their response to sample answers, seeking feedback from their teacher or peers and measuring their response against marking criteria.  

A calm, comfortable space will also help your child study more effectively. At the very least, they should have a clear, tidy desk or table with a comfortable, well-fitting chair, and a desk lamp. Healthy eating, drinking enough water, regular exercise and getting enough sleep doesn’t just help with concentration, but can assist with managing stress.  Teens will be grateful for easy access to healthy snacks, and prompts to have a break and engage in a fun physical activity. 

Don’t discount social media

Instead of combatting and demonising technology, why not use it as a study tool? Whether it be a seven-second TikTok, a 30 second Snapchat story or a seven-minute YouTube video, young people crave distilled information. 

There’s a wealth of useful information on a wide range of topics available on social media. Encourage your child to find entertaining creators who cover their study topics in unique and memorable ways. If they have to revise a particular novel, let them loose on BookTok. If they’re studying for a language exam, encourage them to find YouTubers who speak the language. 

Put mindfulness into practice

As the pressures of the HSC grow, many students can find themselves overwhelmed and anxious about the amount of work they have to do in order to succeed. Regularly practising breathing and mindfulness techniques can help.

One technique, called ‘box breathing’, involves breathing in for four seconds, holding for four, breathing out for four, and holding for four. Try this out if your teen is feeling particularly anxious about their upcoming exams and continue for as many boxes as it takes for them to feel calm.

Another mindfulness technique is known as the 5-4-3-2-1 method. Get your teen to name five things they can see, four things they can touch, three things they can hear, two things they can smell, and one thing they can taste. 

This is great for anyone who often has a lot of busy thoughts in their mind, as it is grounding, keeps them present in the moment, and gives them something different to think about – if only for a few minutes. 

About Lynsey Porter 

Lynsey Porter is the Director of Curriculum at Waverley College and a member of the leadership team. She has been an educator for twenty-two years including seventeen years at Waverley College and eight years in the role of Head of English. Lynsey’s expertise in curriculum is in the area of English where she has seventeen years of experience as an HSC teacher and HSC marker across all English courses.

credits: Lynsey Porter is the Director of Curriculum at Waverley College